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Cult of Less

Tired of clutter? Most of us settle on doing Spring cleanings, but 22-year-old software engineer Kelly Sutton decided to take matters to the extreme.

Matthew Danzico of BBC News has the fascinating story of how Kelly has decided to get rid of almost all material possessions in his life:

Mr Sutton is the founder of, a website which has helped him sell or give away his possessions - apart from his laptop, an iPad, an Amazon Kindle, two external hard drives, a "few" articles of clothing and bed sheets for a mattress that was left in his newly rented apartment.

This 21st-Century minimalist says he got rid of much of his clutter because he felt the ever-increasing number of available digital goods have provided adequate replacements for his former physical possessions.

"I think cutting down on physical commodities in general might be a trend of my generation - cutting down on physical commodities that can be replaced by digital counterparts will be a fact," said Mr Sutton.

Our pal Boing Boing has a follow-up with Kelly about the nitty gritty of his new lifestyle:

The greatest thing gained from Cult of Less has been an unprecedented amount of physical freedom. This is obvious to those that have read Tim Ferriss' 4-Hour Workweek. Ferriss takes owning nothing to an extreme and comes across as brackish in his suggestions, but there is an important point to take away from the book and accompanying blog. A willingness to drop your stationary physical possessions and move is the greatest freedom I have found in this project. Sure, you could get by without a bed, furniture and a few other essentials, but you will be miserable. No one wants to sleep on a floor if they can help it.

Instead, I've found that a lack of attachment to my possessions to be the biggest win. My bed isn't important enough to me to haul more than a few blocks, should I move. Chances are, the person moving into my apartment after me would like a bed. Leaving it for them will be a nice move-in present.

I proposed this lifestyle to my wife, who proceeded to laugh at me as she pointed out the futility of doing so with three children and the irony of making a living selling people stuff they want but don't need on the NeatoShop.

Link: Cult of Less

These are the people who are screwed when something interrupts their life web.

Are these the people i see panic buying food in the store every time it snows?
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I think it depends on how much money you have.

When you can afford to buy all new stuff - there really isn't that much physical stuff you're attached to.
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His site reveals he spent $820 on 5 pair of jeans. I love idiots like this. Especially the kind that make websites about themselves and their cool new lifestyle. Kelly Sutton, and the rest of you hipster Apple product fanboys take note: real minimalists don't need attention, they don't waste a stupid amount of money on "cherished items", they don't spend $820 on blue jeans. You and your $70 "clubbing shirt" missed the point back in mall parking lot.
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Oh, I'm not penny pinching person with common sense who lives within their means. I'm a minimalist. Check.

"A willingness to drop your stationary physical possessions and move is the greatest freedom".
Huh. I had never looked at a homeless person and thought "Wow. They must have an immense amount of freedom."
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Imagine how frustrating it would be to gift-shop for this sort of person :P (although i'm sure they "don't exchange gifts and feed the materialism machine" or something like that.)
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I think men can live more easily with few clothes. For women, it would be difficult to continuously wear the same things week after week.

But once you decide to settle down somewhere, you accumulate. Kids need things. Families need things.
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One of the better arguments that I've read against this man's lifestyle is that in the event of a disaster, he has few tools or materials that he can use to survive. How long can he shelter in place?
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Let’s be honest, in the event of a disaster most people will resort to a wacked out mindset of panic, disbelief and cling to whatever false sense of security they've got. Not many people are trained for those situations and are quite helpless no matter what they have. I'm not defending this guy, I think it's just as bad as hoarding unnecessary crap.
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I like the idea. I agree that the challenge is figuring out how to do this with children in the home. The home would be a lot more organized if there weren't toys all around, but it is the toys that help children learn and provide parents some much needed peace and quiet throughout the day.
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In about five minutes, I will fill three medium-sized cardboard boxes with LP vinyl recordings that I am through owning and caretaking. They have sat and sat in our basement, and reading the article and the great comments above on this website have given me that extra little nudge to shed a few more items. I think it is an art form to take your possessions and ownership apart gradually, with great thought establishing in your own mind that you are okay with letting go and being free of these things. I call it "Dismantling the Ark." When you do a blitz to nothingness, you leave yourself "out there," which clearly appeals to some people, but I am 67 and a little more deliberate on redesigning what I own and who I am. Where I am in full agreement is that having too much is a nuisance and unnecessary. On a subliminal level, you are caretaking all that stuff and I think this may explain to some extent that feeling of release you get when you finally let go of a load of your unused and dormant things. When you see, as I have, that the sky does not fall on top of your head when you do, it is a kind of incentive to keep getting freer and clearer of all the extras that are just clutter, or "stuck energy." Stuff that I use I keep. But if it's going on year number ten of sitting in our attic or basement looking dangerouos like being in storage, it is time to declutter and push the broom around the new empty space. I think what happens here is that at some point the empty space is more appealing to you than boxes of stuff stacked in it that you never use. Anyway, these are my thoughts as I get prepared to trim my records a bit this morning. Simplifying that configuration of what you own, to my mind, is better done slowly and very deliberately so you don't later backslide and wail a lament to the lost-possessions gods (lol). Submitted by Chris Grasse in South Portland, Maine, U.S.A. on 9 November 2010.
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i want to stockpile 5,555 mcdonalds double cheeseburgers for the coming apocalypse when the US dollar collapses...
i'll keep the old james brown records just for fun.
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